Welcome to the ACRE

The Agronomy Center for Research and Education, ACRE, is an outdoor laboratory for Purdue Agriculture. Used for field research and hands-on teaching, the 1,135 acre farm is a busy place with faculty, staff, student, and visitor activity. I am Jim Beaty. I have been Superintendent of the ACRE since 1986. With my four full time staff members, part time help, and student employees we are responsible for operating the research farm. About 53 university researchers conduct projects here at the ACRE. I plan to write about our research, visitors, and farm safety thoughts.

Friday, February 25, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #48

During the holiday season a good gift is safety. ACRE safety is year-round. The best gift you can give your family, your co-workers, and yourself any holiday season is an awareness of safety all year long. Be aware of hazards and don’t put yourself or others at risk of a preventable injury. Make safety a culture. Think, plan, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #47

As we tried to load a combine on a semi-trailer recently, many safety thoughts ran through our minds. But with a temperature in the single digits and high winds it was “frostbite” that really got our attention. Painfully cold toes and fingers are a helpful warning sign to take a warm-up break. The cold chains and metal added to the hazards of frostbite. So wear proper clothing, avoid prolonged skin exposure, and go into a warm place as needed to avoid frostbite. Think, plan and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #46

With the leaves off the trees along the lane it seems that traffic using the lane and driving around the building area has picked up speed. The speed limit around the ACRE building area has always been 15 miles per hour. The lane is not wide and it is tree lined, thus reducing the usual margin for error. Many ACRE buildings are close to a roadway or drive. Hazards include people walking, equipment moving in or out of a building, and other vehicles. I don’t want anyone or anything hit, injured, or damaged. The ACRE Advisory Committee reaffirmed the 15 MPH speed limit along the entrance lane and around the building area during a recent meeting. Please stress driving safety. Think, plan, and work safely at the ACRE. Jim

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #45

REM recently conducted our annual building safety inspection. While inspecting our 60 buildings and looking over hundreds of pieces of equipment we were cited for safety violations. Three themes recur; 1. Extension Cord violations 2. Fire extinguishers either missing or not inspected 3. Unlabeled or uncapped chemicals While we were cited for other violations, if we focused on these problems we could reduce our hazard exposure very simply and still have time to correct the other violations by the required abatement dates. As required the list is posted on the ACRE Shop bulletin board for your inspection. Let’s all work to correct those citations. Let’s think and plan for a violation free and safe ACRE while putting our plan into practice every time we work at ACRE. Thanks Jim

Monday, February 21, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #44

We have completed an environmental and safety audit at ACRE. 1. Our pesticide posting center at the Research building meets expectations. Please keep posting ever pesticide application. Please check the posting center before entering a farm field. Respect re-entry intervals and use personal protective equipment. 2. Our above ground fuel tanks are in good order. Please continue to replace the hose after use, avoid spillage, and check for leakage during use. 3. Pesticide storage in the CPL building needs attention, however. All packages need to be secure and clearly labeled with ingredients. Waste Storage needs some attention too. All waste needs to be in closed containers and labeled. Safe use of pesticides and petroleum chemicals can reduce our health risks. Think, plan, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #43

The University has a new safety awareness program, called “Slip, Trip, Fall, Call”, to report unsafe surface conditions. Similar hazards need to be highlighted at ACRE. Especially important hazards this time of year exist around combines, tractors, wagons, and the grain bins. Those hazards are ladders and steps. Combines may have ladders or steps. Grain bins have ladders. The Post Harvest Center has both ladders and steps. A simple recommendation for ladders is “toes and tummy in” and three points of contact. Always face “in” to use a ladder. It is not recommended to climb down a ladder facing “out”, as heel slippage on a ladder rung can more easily occur. When it is muddy it is important to keep equipment ladders and steps clean. Most importantly remember to slow down when using ladders or steps and practice safe habits. Plan, think, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Monday, February 14, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #42

Here are some more ACRE safety thoughts about combines. Some researchers have found it better to use a plot combine as a stationary combine for small plots than to use a single plant thresher or a bundle thresher. This can be made a safer operation with a few extra precautions. Teach everyone involved in the operation about the procedures and safe operation. Place the combine on a level solid location with adequate space to work. The area should be cleared of tripping hazards. Be sure to put the combine in neutral and set the parking brake. Double check this. The reel mechanism must be stopped while the collection belt operates. No moving parts should be exposed and all guards should be securely in place. When placing plants in the combine, you must keep hands and arms away from the moving collection belt. As needed you must move threshed debris away from the rear discharge of the combine. You should always train other workers in emergency shut down procedures. Plan, think, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RCAS in Corpus Christi Texas

The Research Center Administrators Society met in Corpus Christi this week. Sessions included management of centers, safety, working with bio-mass and much more. Great meetings for me and hopefully my peers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #41

Harvest season brings on the use of combines and other powered equipment. The dust and dried plant material that accumulates on power equipment can be very combustible. A combine fire, although rare, would be a serious hazard to ACRE workers. To avoid this hazard keep harvest equipment cleaned daily, or more often if needed. Broom off or use the farm shop compressed air system to keep equipment clean. Be especially aware of plant material that wraps tightly around shafts or bearings and might heat up. Seriously attempt to keep the area around the engine exhaust system free from any debris. Proper equipment maintenance is critical to prevent bearings from overheating during failure. Plan, think, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Thursday, February 3, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought # 40

One harvest season hazard to avoid, happens when a plot combine gets stuck in the mud and chains, cables, or synthetic tow ropes are used for removal. Pulling out equipment that is mired in the mud requires special safety considerations. Don’t get under an unstable machine to attach the chain. Don’t stand between the two machines during the hooking process unless you are sure the pulling machine is stopped and in park. Always attach to sturdy low structures, like tool bar or tie down hooks. The pulling vehicle should be heavier than the combine. Use a tractor instead of a pick-up if possible. The condition and rated size of the chain, cable, or tow rope is critical. A slow steady pull is much safer than a “snap pull” which should never be executed at ACRE. The driver of both the stuck combine and the tow tractor must be keenly aware of the rebound hazards should the tow line fail. If a line is under tension and a connecting hook fails, then the stored energy in the line under tension can create a sling-shot rebound and send the hook or cable from the other end flying back towards the machine and person on the opposite end. Likewise helpers and spectators should stay a safe distance away from a pulling process. Plan, think, and work safely at ACRE.